Don’t Marry Career Men


Via today, I found a article [since taken down, but archived here] that is one of the most offensive things I’ve ever read in my life. I can’t believe that it found its way into a national publication in 2006. The point of it is that men shouldn’t marry “career women” (also called “career girl[s]” in the article) because marriage to a “career woman” makes the husband more likely to get divorced, less likely to have children, unhappy if his wife makes more than he does, more likely to “fall ill,” and consigned to live in a “dirtier” home.

There are some things worth writing a rebuttal to, and this article not is one of them. However, I was inspired by Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing to do something with it.

I pasted the whole thing to a Word document and then reversed all the gendered nouns and pronouns. Everything below is word-for-word from the article; I did absolutely nothing but switch gender.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold: Don’t Marry Career Men

Don’t Marry Career Men

Michael Noer 08.22.06, 6:00 AM ET

Gals: A word of advice. Marry pretty men or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don’t marry a man with a career.

Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional men are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that men–even those with a “feminist” outlook–are happier when their wife is the primary breadwinner.

Not a happy conclusion, especially given that many women, particularly successful women, are attracted to men with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career guy is well-educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? Sure…at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful he is the more likely he is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?

In Pictures: Nine Reasons To Steer Clear Of Career Men

Many factors contribute to a stable marriage, including the marital status of your spouse’s parents (folks with divorced parents are significantly more likely to get divorced themselves), age at first marriage, race, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. And, of course, many working men are indeed happily and fruitfully married–it’s just that they are less likely to be so than non-working men. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.

To be clear, we’re not talking about a high-school dropout minding a cash register. For our purposes, a “career guy” has a university-level (or higher) education, works more than 35 hours a week outside the home and makes more than $30,000 a year.

If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these men is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill ( American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier ( Institute for Social Research).

Why? Well, despite the fact that the link between work, men and divorce rates is complex and controversial, much of the reasoning is based on a lot of economic theory and a bit of common sense. In classic economics, a marriage is, at least in part, an exercise in labor specialization. Traditionally men have tended to do “market” or paid work outside the home and women have tended to do “non-market” or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal. Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker argued that when the labor specialization in a marriage decreases–if, for example, both spouses have careers–the overall value of the marriage is lower for both partners because less of the total needed work is getting done, making life harder for both partners and divorce more likely. And, indeed, empirical studies have concluded just that.

In 2004, John H. Johnson examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and concluded that gender has a significant influence on the relationship between work hours and increases in the probability of divorce. Men’s work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in women’s work hours often have no statistical effect. “I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed,” Johnson says. A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours) have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy one. But even in these studies, husbands’ employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of “low marital quality.”

The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen their mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they’ll meet someone they like more than you. “The work environment provides a host of potential partners,” researcher Adrian J. Blow reported in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, “and individuals frequently find themselves spending a great deal of time with these individuals.”

There’s more: According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas.) Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.

And if the cheating leads to divorce, you’re really in trouble. Divorce has been positively correlated with higher rates of alcoholism, clinical depression and suicide. Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually-transmitted disease. Plus divorce is financially devastating. According to one recent study on “Marriage and Divorce’s Impact on Wealth,” published in The Journal of Sociology, divorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%.

So why not just stay single? Because, academically speaking, a solid marriage has a host of benefits beyond just individual “happiness.” There are broader social and health implications as well. According to a 2004 paper entitled “What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage?” marriage is positively associated with “better outcomes for children under most circumstances,” higher earnings for adult women, and “being married and being in a satisfying marriage are positively associated with health and negatively associated with mortality.” In other words, a good marriage is associated with a higher income, a longer, healthier life and better-adjusted kids.

A word of caution, though: As with any social scientific study, it’s important not to confuse correlation with causation. In other words, just because married folks are healthier than single people, it doesn’t mean that marriage is causing the health gains. It could just be that healthier people are more likely to be married.


50 responses to “Don’t Marry Career Men

  1. Pingback: Boing Boing

  2. “Because if many social scientists are to be believed”

    There you ladies go… hearing whatever it is that you want to hear. ;)

  3. My God.

    This is up there with “The Internet is a series of tubes” speech as one of the most jaw-droppingly neanderthal moments of 2006.

  4. I’am a married career man and I’m astonished. While it’s true I’d prefer being home with kids, I’m much happier being a constructive member of society.

    I like nothing better than than to meet my woman at the door after her long day of work dressed in a french maid’s outfit.

    Er… wait.. that’s probably TMI…

    Jennifer writes:

    Dave, if you EVER get divorced, call me. If you’ve got the French maid outfit, I’ve got the ring and the keys to my house. Game on, baby.

  5. I just don’t understand what the big deal is. A woman’s place is in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, preferably making me a sandwich. There wouldn’t be any problem if women just knew their place.

    (tongue planted firmly in cheek, yet another man is ashamed that he shares his gender with that guy at

  6. Can we make sure we read the papers this article draws from before deciding that the conclusions are entirely unfounded?

    There are a number of things that could be wrong with the papers themselves, the article’s interpretation of these papers, or anything besides.

    There’s a lot more to be gained in getting to the bottom of the problems with these ideas than there is by just rejecting them out of hand.

    What if those claims are validated – does that mean that women are somehow “less” than men? Is our value system set up so shabbily that a few studies about a divorce rate can lend weight to an argument about gender equality? Must the sexes be the exact same in all aspects, or else our politics are flawed?

    I submit that there is a way for men and women to be different, yet still have equal standing under our laws and in our minds. It’s our responsibility as critical thinkers to find what that way is.

    That starts with doing more than just seeing an article you don’t like and calling it tantamount to thoughtcrime. (*ahem Xeni *cough*)

  7. Dave, marry me.

  8. I think the answer to the Forbes guy is pretty clear. He needs to give up his job and just be dependent on his wife. Then we won’t have to read his assinine articles any more either.

  9. not-so-new-ager

    The article makes a few good points, maybe homes would be generally happier and children better looked after if one parent could stay home to carry that side of things. It’s a hell of a lot of work, how does it get done properly when both people are gone 10 hours a day? Who wants a daycare raising their children so they can go into an office and bust their butt for someone else?
    Then, the author makes himself look like a complete moron for most of the rest of it….what an idiot. Shame on Forbes for not only publishing it, but for hiring the guy in the first place. In fact shame on his cheating, lying, boozer of a mother for having him. Totally gave the guy a complex about women :P
    Luckily this article will bring the negativity and backlash it deserves. And girls – be glad we are living in a time where this kind of crap can be laughed at.

  10. Thank you for doing this, so I wouldn’t have to. *g*

  11. haha hahahahaha. I love this. I know this article is making the net rounds, and I think the article is pointing at some interesting dynamics between men and women (mostly men actually) but when you turned it around it becomes really clear how strong the dynamic is. to wit:
    “And, of course, many working men are indeed happily and fruitfully married–it’s just that they are less likely to be so than non-working men. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.”

    non-working men are more happily married? to whom? think about it. what woman would actually marry a man who didn’t have a job? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen (I know of at least one case where it did) but doesn’t it say something about how we culturally view men and women that guys without jobs seem to have some sort of defect, whereas women without jobs just don’t have jobs?

    or think of this one:
    a man at 25 living with his mother. A woman at 25 living with her mother.

    how about a jobless man/woman living with their mother?

    we culturally and individually see genders differently. that does not mean that we always take those notions and apply them to individual situations.

    I think that a better critique of the forbes article would be to find out if it’s based on age. do the statistics in the article show variation in age? ie. are these ideas true for gen X and Y as well as baby boomers?

    what I wish I could see was a better examination of men coming from the article and not the reaction of women being slighted. I think Noer’s thoughts are much more indicative of a problem with how men see things/experience marriage/life than with any failing of women (working or otherwise).

    “Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the author of Creating a Life:
    Professional Women and the Quest for Children, only 51% of
    ultra-achieving women (those earning more than $100,000 a year) have had
    children by age 40” -from ‘Nine Reasons to Steer Clear of Career Women: Slideshow’

    isn’t this just as much a problem with men and women and the real issues confronting child rearing in the modern age that 49% of those “ultra-achieving women” have not had kids? isn’t this a problem men need to figure out? do all men need to be more involved in child rearing?

    I just don’t think political correctness helps us get there, especially when Forbes takes the article down. it seems like a missed opportunity for some really interesting discussion.

  12. While I find the original article laughable, I wonder what the intention of the gender swapping is…are you hinting that people, specifically men, would be outraged about it? Should it sound funnier?

    It should be treated with the same ridicule as the tubes, but this attempt at a “clever” rebuttal is quite frankly pretty lame…as is Xeni Jardin’s hysterical screeching on Boing Boing.

    I assume she also started the stub about the original author on Wikipedia? That would be the most pathetic reaction, using a great open system for their own “outragedness”…I hope that’s not the case.

  13. Pingback: » Blog Archive » beware the career woman!

  14. “Career Boys” excuse me! Not “Career Guy” :D Let’s be accurate here!

  15. Pingback: Mumble Mumble… » Blog Archive » Holy misogyny, Batman!

  16. A random grammar-pick from an English geek. Blondes should be used for females, and the appropriate term for men would be blonds. Ditto brunettes/brunets. I know that modern American English usage makes this distinction less and less, but in a piece where you are making a point to reverse gendered terms, maybe you should switch these as well.

  17. Well, if the sources can be disproved then it’s a bad article. I think it might have been more enlightened if they just admitted two type A people of any gender shouldn’t get married :)

  18. I’m just wondering, now matter how badly written the original article is, what is the point of gender-swapping? You didn’t swap genders in any of the references he pointed to, and even then, what would the point be? At least the Forbes author referenced a few published articles which can be examined to look at his argumentation.

    If I changed all male pronouns to female ones in an article about (statistical) differences in the way female and male brains are organized, what would that really achieve? I don’t see how this is any different. (Unless you meant it purely as an exercise in comedy, in which case I simply missed the humour.)

    Jennifer writes:

    Hi Mork,

    My point with gender-swapping was in part to help the reader see the inherent stupidity of Noer’s words.

    Calvin made this comment above:

    I think the article is pointing at some interesting dynamics between men and women (mostly men actually) but when you turned it around it becomes really clear how strong the dynamic is. to wit: “And, of course, many working men are indeed happily and fruitfully married–it’s just that they are less likely to be so than non-working men. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.”
    If a man is better off marrying a person who doesn’t make much and doesn’t get out much and isn’t college-educated, then isn’t a woman better off with that kind of mate as well? And shouldn’t we become a nation of happily married college dropouts with part-time jobs? If men should men seek a woman who only works part-time, shouldn’t women seek the same thing, in a man, for the same reasons?

    Is that what you want in a mate — someone who fits within certain statistically “safe” series of guidelines that include a low wage and a lack of formal education beyond high school? (And should I stop driving because it makes me statistically more likely to be injured?) Or do you just want whom you want, whom your heart dictates? Are you going to stay away from dating educated women with FT jobs because of this article?

    Do you think that Noer is giving you good advice on potential dating partners to avoid? Do you think I should look for a man with a low-paying PT job and no degree, because he’d make the safer, longer-lasting marriage partner? (This is kind of a shame for me due to my strong attraction to highly educated science geeks.)

    If this advice doesn’t apply to me, why? Should I deny my natural attraction to men with intelligence and knowledge and just keep looking for that prize catch with the PT job?
    Should I try to reduce my desire to learn science and make money because I want a man like Michael Noer to have a better opinion of me as a potential dating parnter?

  19. The original article combined generalities with personal opinion, and obviously was biased towards a particular view. The problem is that the entire thing was too brief, and felt out of context. Is the author the type of guy who likes attention? In his experience, or generally, are spouses heavily into careers less likely to be affectionate or does having two career-involved spouses affect their sex lives? In a situation where 2 people are making $30,000+, perhaps they cheat because their spouse is too “tired” or distracted to maintain a healthy sex life at home, leading the cheating spouse to seek elsewhere. None of this is considered or explored.

    On the other side, the counter-point begins with faulty logic. His general statements must be wrong because HER marriage is fine, which is irrelevant. Although she did counter some points successfully, such as 2 career spouses can better afford a maid, etc. Of course, she didn’t bring up other aspects of the marriage (like healthy sex lives or lack thereof) either.

    In terms of the remix, with the gender switching, I missed the point too. It renders many segments completely pointless without creating humour. I tried to see the humour, but just because one tries to be funny does not make them a comedian. The original article itself was borderline self-parody, so to parody something of that nature requires a slightly stronger concept then just a variation of mad libs.

  20. The gender-swapping is a clever trick, and reading the article backwards has some shock value, but you have the problem that, in the reverse, none of the statistics are true; or at least none of the statistics are justified.

    You have made no point. It’s as if a teacher says to a student “I graded your paper, and you get an F”. And the student replies “No, YOU get an F.”

    I challenge you instead to find studies (or become a sociologist and research your own) that demonstrate that double-career marriages are more successful than single-career marriages. If such a demographic can be characterized, the feminist goal of getting more women to have fulfilling careers instead of unfulfilling home lives would truly be advanced.

  21. RubeRad,

    Reading the article backwards has shock value?

    Who said these stats aren’t true? I haven’t the time to look into their validity, but I accept that I have no proof that they are false.  But do they justify the extreme and idiotic measure of avoiding an educated “career woman” in order to maximize your statistical chance at happiness?

    I challenge you to answer me this: did this article sway you towards avoiding, as dating partners, educated women who work full time for a decent wage?

  22. good stuff. no way could i read it the other way. it’s clear now that just as this version of the article isn’t gonna make me drop my smartypants boyfriend, the anti-woman one wouldn’t make decent men drop their smartypants women.

    comforting. thanks.

  23. Pingback: Face2Face Meetingsnet » Blog Archive » Off topic: Don’t marry a career woman? Ha!

  24. This is so stupid. One thing i know about women (and I am one): they sure love drama.

  25. […]I challenge you instead to find studies (or become a sociologist and research your own) that demonstrate that double-career marriages are more successful than single-career marriages.[…]

    The problem isn’t the research, it’s the conclusions the author’s drawn from that research — namely, that the reason double-career marriages aren’t as successful is those pesky “career girls” who have too much education, make too much money and have too much of a life outside the home.

  26. Pingback: Shameless Magazine - for girls who get it » “Just, whatever you do, don’t marry a woman with a career.”

  27. It seems to me that the research in question has not looked at the whole issue. It has looked at families in which both partners work, and families in which only the man works. What about families in which the woman is the sole provider? What about gay and lesbian couples. If there’s anything I learned in my women’s studies courses, it’s that if we want to change the roles of women in the world, we have to change the roles of men, too. EVERYONE can’t be a ‘career man/woman’, or there is no one doing what was once ‘women’s work’. So, to anyone with the time and necessary education, I propose research into other types of families left out by those in the article (maybe studies like these already exist, I mean, the guy was trying to make a point, he could have been selective).

  28. You missed inverting “feminist”. Granted, men can be feminists as well, but the object of and root of the word is definitely gendered. The question of whether “masculine” or “chauvanist” would be a better invert is left as an exercise….

  29. Reading all of this stuff helps me realize one of the big advantages of being gay. My partner and I make up our own rules as far as gender and work go…

  30. LOL Gina I am sure that is a major advantage, and one that more hetero couples would do well to learn from. But just think! Now you and your partner have all kinds of ideas for faux-hetero kink involving you pretending to work only part-time for less than $35 K, and your partner pretending to get mad when you leave the house to go have dealings with all those sexually tempting co-workers!

    You never knew we were this kinky, did you?

  31. Yes, making up your own rules in your unique relationship is definitely the best framework one (two) can achieve. And it’s obvious that homosexual couples have an advantage in that, due to the lack of moulds and traditional roles.

    I’d like to think that I grew up in an environment where there weren’t any traditional gender roles and that I don’t adhere to any myself. With strong, free-spirited, women I’m able to have a completely equal relationship, without the hideous TRYING to be equal. The aforementioned kinkiness is something a lot of feminists seem to like though – the few that I’ve been dating were utterly incapable to make up their own rules, instead filtering any interaction through the views of whoever they were reading at the time.

  32. I’ve been married to a career gal for 10 years and she’s awesome. I’m a career guy, and she thinks I’m the greatest. Our pre-teen kids are the greatest and they love us. I guess we’re exceptions to the Forbes Rule?

  33. Oh yeh. clever… twit.

  34. I wonder what these social Scientists know about marriage?

  35. I loved the don`t marry a career man because that is EXATLY what women want. Just look in ANY dating ads. MOST women want the guys to have a 4 year degree, Want them to make 30k+ want them to get the big car, big house, stepford wife lifestyle. Funny how women want to marry UP even though they`ve won the SEX wars by 1) being a (Minority) so thereby getting into colleges easier, getting grates\loans easier. Getting favoritizism lets face it. Oh also getting It`s not your fault it`s MENS. Maybe I sound like a Sexist male but by my birthright (being a guy) I`m already doomed by many.

    It least GUYS don`t have hangups about there looks\weight.

  36. Nothing more than someone trying to pass their opinion as fact.

    The author only points to few sources, but not many.

    He makes assumptions about ppl, “The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious…” which is supposed to be a no-no in research papers. He makes statements in several places without sourcing,

    “According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex…” Tell me exactly who did the study, where it has taken place, how long the study completed, what kind of a study it, and most importantly where it was published. This kind of stuff eventually is what got me my b’s instead of a’s on my English papers back in high school and junior college.

    OMG. For a professional essay, this sure has a lot of grammar and essay flaws…and relies too much on bias, opinions, and supposed assumptions the general reader would know.

  37. Pingback: » Coke vs. Pepsi — or how to find a good wife (preferably one who doesn’t have a job).

  38. HAHA i absolutely LOVE the fact that femmies are getting PISSED OFF !! and that FEWER AND FEWER MEN ARE GOING TO MARRY THEIR SORRY ASS !! KEEP WHINING !!! HAHHAHAHA



  39. er, is it sexist to point out that changing the gender in the forbes story was a total waste of effort: the result is not humorous and doesn’t make any point. but hey, if pointless activity makes you feel better, go for it girl.

  40. I haven’t heard the term “career girls” since my grandfather used it in 1975.

  41. um, switching the genders makes the article ring false. It seemed right on the mark in the original, though. I don’t think your experiment worked.

  42. So, you (women I assume) found the Forbes article to be, and I quote “one of the most offensive things I’ve ever read in my life”.

    You also made the further statement ” There are some things not worth writing a rebuttal to, and this article is one of them.” and then you proceed to do exactly that. Not only are you doing what you say isn’t worth doing, but you chose to reply by writing the exact same type of sexist article that you were so critical of (and outraged by) in the first place.

    Your rebuttal article is sexist crap. The only thing you have done is to switch genders.You people are a bunch of hypocrites, hiding behind your gender and taking potshots at men. You sure do like to dish it out, but seems like you can’t take it.

  43. Pingback: Jane on Careers and Life » Blog Archive » Don’t Marry Career Women? Boo to Career Men? So What!

  44. Pingback: I’m not a career-minded bitch « Canace

  45. Maybe all of the women who read the article and reacted negatively to it should take heed if they want to get married and have a family. Men are listening to messages like the one in this article and no amount of complaining by women (a.k.a wimmin) is going to stop that.

    I, for one, am listening to his sound advice.

    — Anonymous

  46. There is is big problem with you changing the words from “women” to “men” IT’S NO LONGER TRUE. The facts about career women and marrage a real facts from real studies. You don’t like Truth so you fabrivate something inflamatory. Ignoring reality is usually the best way to address a problem. Lies and decit don’t matter if you can twist it. I would have expected something better. Wanting the facts to be diferent don’t make it so.

    It’s not sexist if it’s true- like it or not.

  47. Wandered over from BlogHer and am sitting here AT WORK, slack-jawed. And not just from the article (not your version, but the original), but also by some of the comments (I’m talking to you, Moon).

    I think I’ll go run off and look for a co-worker with whom to have an affair while I curse the day my daughter was born.


  48. Good luck “talking” to “Moon,” Dorothy. That decitful and inflamatory fabrivator is still working on getting up the nerve to leave his contact info in his bizarre and ignorant posts. In the meantime, he posts to the beat of a diferent drummer. When he learns to make his subjects and verbs agree, perhaps he’ll be back with more brilliance.

  49. It’s good to see that cheap snobism is alive and well, especially for people who are “opening to the deep romance of everyday life”.

    After reading through the comments, I noticed that you, Jennifer, only seem to respond to people who more or less would side with you.

    While not very inspiring, I think it’s only human, but what I don’t get is your obvious arrogance – you almost wear it like a medal.

    Maybe it’s just “an American thing”…I don’t really know…have only been there twice. And I don’t write this to insult you, but it really struck a chord…

    And please, before you find some typo that you can ridicule, let me tell you that English is only my second language…


  50. Hi Nicolas,

    I don’t ridicule typos. I ridicule ignorance.

    You know, it was enjoyable to be called “arrogant” by the writer of the most arrogant post on this thread.

    Thanks for having the guts to post your email address!


    PS — In your post above, you need to move the quotes after the word “life” to AFTER the period. But in light of your multilingual majesty, I’m sure that’s just a typo, so I’ll quash my nearly overpowering desire to ridicule it.